From Wednesday, Feb. 29, until Saturday, March 2, the Marriott at 555 Canal Street in New Orleans played host to over a thousand conventioneers from Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honorary society. Three students from Fairmont State University’s Beta Omega chapter attended this event, along with their sponsor, Dr. James Matthews. Their trip was jointly funded by the Department of Language and Literature and the Office of the Provost.
The convention is an annual event where students from across the nation and abroad (representatives came from as far as Kuwait) gather to present critical papers as well as original fiction and poetry. This year a record-breaking 1,200 papers were submitted, which made the selection process even more rigorous.
The three student representatives from FSU were Shasta Gibson, Amber Mcnutt and Meghan Schreckengost. This was the first year that students from FSU who were not presenting attended the event. Gibson presented a paper on Saturday titled “Magic Makes Right: Husband-Testing in the Middle Ages,” which was a comparative analysis of the patriarchal texts of wife-testing against the stories of the Loathly Lady archetype.
“I’m ready to go back,” Meghan Schreckengost, a senior in English Education, said with a laugh when asked about the convention.
Amber Mcnutt, a junior who is a double major in English and Spanish, said, "The conference made me look at things in a different perspective. And while I did not always agree with the presenters, it was refreshing to listen to different views about medieval literature and vampire literature."
There were several guest speakers at the conference, including Natasha Tretheway, the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry and Professor of English at Emory University. She gave a reading from this year’s Sigma Tau Delta Common Reader, Bellocq’s Ophelia, which is her second collection of poetry. This collection of poetry was inspired by a series of photographs taken by E.J. Bellocq in the 1900s. The subjects of his photographs were prostitutes from the red-light district and Tretheway’s poems conglomerate his subjects into a single woman, named Ophelia, whose internal life she follows.
“You go to present your work, but more than that, you go to hear everyone else’s. Having a speaker like Tretheway really reveals not just where you’ve been, but how far you still have to go before you’re really qualified to talk about anything. Of course, having a Common Reader that was actually set in New Orleans, the city we’d just spent days exploring in between panels, was really exciting,” said Shasta Gibson, a senior majoring in English.
The 2013 Sigma Tau Delta convention will be held in Portland, Ore.